Whether you eat early, eat late or eat on the road get in front of your television early this Thanksgiving because the game in Detroit has some increased importance as the Lions face the Vikings with first place in the NFC North on the line. The Vikings stopped their skid last week and come in tied with the Lions at 6-4. Every game the Lions have played this year is close, including an overtime win in Minnesota in Week 9. Matthew Stafford may be having his finest season, while the Vikings offense has been adrift. The Lions have also gotten solid secondary play. With a win, Detroit will certainly be in the driver’s seat.
The Cowboys are rolling into Thanksgiving this year as they have the best record in the NFL at 9-1 with nine straight wins. Their streak started with a 27-23 comeback win in Washington in Week 2. Since that loss, the Redskins have played well themselves, overcoming an 0-2 start to get back in the playoff picture, with a 6-1-1 record in their last eight games. The Cowboys are due to slip up sooner or later, and their defense can be scored upon. Look for an old-fashioned shootout between two bitter rivals with the Redskins emerging with a win in overtime in what could be the most thrilling turkey day game in years.
The only team that Ben Roethlisberger is happier to see than the Browns, is the Colts. In the past two season, Big Ben has had record setting performances slicing and dicing the Colts defense, as the Steelers ran up and down Heinz Field for 96 points. This game is in Indianapolis which could even give a bigger boost the Steelers offense as it is one of the fastest surfaces in the league. Making matters worse for the Colts, Andrew Luck is unlikely to play after suffering a concussion on Sunday. The Steelers ended their losing streak last week, and this week they launch themselves back into the playoff chase with a blowout win as America enjoys their Pumpkin Pie.
After two strong seasons, the Arizona Cardinals have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season. At 4-5-1 they are barely hanging on and will all but finished with another loss. The Falcons have been solid on the other hand at 6-4 coming off a bye. The Falcons have played well against the Cardinals historically, and in three trips to the Eastern Time Zone, the Cardinals have played poorly including their loss in Minnesota last week. The Cardinals secondary is missing Tyrann Matheiu and Carson Palmer has played poorly in the last two games. Add all these factors together and it looks like a win for Atlanta.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been playing catch up all season, as they have never found the groove off their playoff implosion last season. At 3-6-1 their playoff hopes all but dead. A loss in Baltimore will be the nail in the coffin for the Bengals and could lead to a much need organizational shakeup. The Bengals are a dirty and undisciplined team that every week seems to make a costly turnover or penalty that hurts their chances. Now playing without leading receiver A.J. Green who tore his hamstring the Bengals will have their work cut out for them. The Ravens meanwhile at 5-5, just seem to do enough to keep their heads above water, especially against teams they should be able to beat.
Blake Bortles has been a flat out bust for the Jaguars, who at 2-8 are likely going to go through a major house cleaning when the season is over. The Bills are threading water at 5-5 and have a slight chance to end their 17-year playoff drought. Rex Ryan’s future in Buffalo will likely be decided by what the Bills do in their final six games. If he stays in Buffalo perhaps he can bring in Bortles since both seem to have a foot fetish. Ryan’s love of feet is well chronicled, while Blake Bortles has had passes bounce off his receivers’ feet the last two weeks for interceptions. As for this week, Ryan does not give his fellow foot lover a hand as the Bills stay alive with a win at home.
Even with a loss in Indianapolis last week, the Titans are clearly heading in the right direction. Marcus Mariota is having a solid sophomore season and the Titans have been solid all season running the football. The Bears meanwhile are a mess, as Jay Cutler has likely thrown his last pass from the Monsters of the Midway after tearing his labrum. With Brian Hoyer already hurt this leaves Matt Barkley and Josh Wodrum to lead the Bears offense the remainder of the season, and you thought things were already bad for the Bears. The Titans have their future in place, the Bears meanwhile are better off losing at this point so they can do the same in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Giants have won their last five games, but it has not been easy as they have had to fight in each and every game, until the bitter end. The Browns at 0-11 are five games away from becoming just the second team to go winless in a 16-game season. However, the Browns at times have been competitive and if a team is caught looking ahead at tough games on the horizon could be in for a rude awakening. The Giants have not played a true road game since losing to the Packers in Week 5. The Giants will win the game, but there will be some tense moments before Eli Manning finds Odell Beckham Jr. late to put the game away.
After their Monday Night loss in Mexico City, the Texans are feeling sick to their stomach and it has nothing to do with Montezuma’s revenge. The Texans quite simply were screwed by the officials who made at least three game changing bad calls that cost Houston a chance to upset the Raiders. Coming home the Texans will seek to take out their frustrations on the Chargers. The Texans have been perfect at home this season, winning all five games at NRG Stadium. The Chargers have had their ups and downs and coming off a bye at 4-6 could be in for a rough finish with Philip Rivers continuing his tendency for costly turnovers.
The Dolphins are suddenly in the middle of the playoff race with five straight wins coming off a pair of wins in Southern California. Last week was a true example of how far Miami has come since the beginning of the season as their offense could do nothing for 55 minutes before scoring two late touchdowns to rally to beat the Rams. The big concern for the Dolphins is their offensive line which has been ravaged by injury. The 49ers have looked slightly better in the last two weeks, but still have that ugly nine straight losses on their backs. Look for the Dolphins to get a big game from Jay Ajayi as the Dolphins head into December with momentum.
Last week Jared Goff finally got his first start and led the Rams down the field for an early score. However, Jeff Fisher seemed more concerned with holding the lead and did not allow Goff much freedom on a rare rainy day in Los Angeles. In his first road start, Goff must be allowed to open things up more or the Rams are going to get their doors blow off in the Superdome. Either way the chances of Rams win are slim as the Saints offense even with back-to-back losses has played well. Drew Brees will be the difference in this one as the Saints keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
The Buccaneers are 5-5 for the second straight season as they again have hit their stride in the middle of the season. Last season they stumbled down the stretch, this year they are in a much better position as they are getting healthy with Doug Martin returning from injury. The Seahawks are also surging, as their win two weeks ago, in Foxboro has shown they are still one of the top teams in the NFL. The Bucs last week scored an upset over the Chiefs in Arrowhead are dogs again this week at home. Another will upset will not be a big surprise, but the Seahawks just have too much experience and appear to be hitting their stride though the game will be tight.
At 3-7 the Jets have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season. Coming off a bye they are turning back the reigns to Ryan Fitzpatrick after Bryce Petty could do nothing against the Rams two weeks ago. This game was originally a Sunday Night game but flexed away from primetime due to the Jets struggles. Still even when they are at their worst they have a habit of giving the Patriots a hard time. The Patriots could be without Rob Gronkowski again, this week and could be in for another long day in the Meadowlands. In the end the Patriots will escape as the Jets rolling the dice, fall just short of an upset.
The Raiders at 8-2 are just one win away from their first winning season since 2002. However, their shaky performance in Mexico City must be a concern as they needed three quarters and a tiring Texans defense at altitude to get their offense on track. The Raiders also benefited greatly from some officiating mistakes. The Panthers at 4-6 are hanging on by a thread, but one must think they will still make some noise before the season is over. I still don’t like the Raiders in their own stadium as their future remains up in the air despite Oakland making strides this past week to build a new stadium. I like Cam Newton to have a big game, as the Raiders stumble at home again.
Both teams come in with records of 7-3 and in the thick of the playoff race in the toughest division in the NFL. The Broncos are coming off a much-needed bye, while the Chiefs suffered a stunning loss at home to the Buccaneers last week, perhaps caught in a trap looking ahead to this week. One thing that must be concern for Kanas City is their offensive struggles in the past two games, as they could not get anything going against the Panthers and Buccaneers. The Broncos defense is stronger than either of those two teams. Look for the Chiefs offense to sputter again as the Broncos once again rule Sunday Night at home.
Something has gone rotten in Green Bay, as the Packers has more holes than Swiss Cheese. With four straight losses, the Packers at 4-6 are on the verge of falling out of the playoff chase as fans have begun to turn on Coach Mike McCarthy. The Eagles have had their ups and downs at 5-5, but when it comes to playing at home it’s been all good news for the Eagles as they are 4-0 at Lincoln Financial Field. Look for Carson Wentz to be the latest to exploit the Packers horrific secondary and have his best game of the season as the Eagles sore to a Monday Night win.